SIMoN
  Sanctuary Integrated Monitoring Network
Monitoring Project

NOAA’s Deep-Sea Coral FY2010 Assessment for the U.S. West Coast

Principal Investigator(s)

  • Ed Bowlby
    Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary
  • Jan Roletto
    Greater Farallones National Marine Sanctuary
  • Dan Howard
    Cordell Bank National Marine Sanctuary
  • Mary Yoklavich
    NOAA Fisheries
  • Jeff Hyland
    National Centers for Coastal Ocean Science
  • Liz Clarke
    NOAA Fisheries
  • Peter Etnoyer
    National Centers for Coastal Ocean Science
  • Steve Katz
    Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary

Funding

  • NOAA, NMFS, Coral Reef Conservation Program, Northwest and Southwest Science Centers Office of Natio
Start Date: June 07, 2010

The marine region off the coast of Washington, Oregon and California accounts for about 7% (778,628 km2) of the total area of the U.S. Economic Exclusive Zone and contains extensive deep-sea coral (DSC) communities. NOAA manages five National Marine Sanctuaries (NMS) on the West Coast: the Channel Islands (CINMS), Monterey Bay (MBNMS), Gulf of the Farallones (GFNMS), Cordell Bank CBNMS), and Olympic Coast (OCNMS). All contain deep-sea corals.

NOAA’s Coral Reef Conservation Program (CRCP, http://coralreef.noaa.gov/) is charged with coordinating the implementation of DSC research activities, which is primarily authorized by the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act (MSA) (U.S.C. 1801 et seq.). The MSA was reauthorized in 2006 and it included a new requirement to establish a “Deep-Sea Coral Research and Technology Program” (http://coralreef.noaa.gov/deepseacorals/#dscprogram) (DSCRTP; MSA Section 408) and authorized Fishery Management Plan discretionary provisions (Sec. 303(b)(2))(Annex 1). The CRCP also integrates a variety of other NOAA mandates for science and management action related to DSC including other provisions of the MSA and the National Marine Sanctuaries Act (http://sanctuaries.noaa.gov/missions/2010coral_west/).

In Fiscal Year (FY) 2010, NOAA expanded DSC and sponge field research and mapping activities to include the U.S. West Coast. The new field activities are being led by a NOAA cross-line office team consisting of the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), Northwest Fisheries Science Center (NWFSC) and Southwest Fisheries Science Center (SWFSC); the National Ocean Service (NOS), Office of National Marine Sanctuaries (ONMS), OCNMS and CINMS; and the Office of Oceanic and Atmospheric Research (OAR), Office of Ocean Exploration and Research (OER); and coordinated with multiple NOAA programs, academia, and nongovernmental organizations.



The goal for FY2010 is to survey DSC and sponge communities from Washington to southern California and includes five components: 1) OCNMS to address Essential Fish Habitat (EFH) information needs for a proposal to Pacific Fishery Management Council (PFMC) to expand the boundaries and increase protective measures for a EFH Conservation Area; 2) Grays Canyon, Washington sponge reefs to address EFH and provide additional information to the PFMC to implement protective measures; 3) CINMS to address EFH and characterize the distribution and abundance of DSC; 4) Southern California to address EFH and focus on the biology and ecology of the DSC; and, 5) Central California, GFNMS and CBNMS to conduct reconnaissance and characterization of suspected DSCs inside and outside of EFH areas. FY2010 efforts are intended to balance the DSC and sponge needs across topics and geography to ensure the activities adhere to PFMC, EFH, and ONMS needs.

Study Parameters

  • Range/Biogeography
  • Habitat association
  • Habitat
  • Diversity
  • Abundance
  • Distribution
  • Genetics
  • Temperature
  • Salinity
  • Conductivity
  • Maps
  • Substrate characterization
  • Geological characterization
  • Ocean Acidification

Study Methods

RESEARCH PLANS, 2010
Field activities for FY 2010 comprise three research cruises. The first cruise will take place aboard the NOAA ship McArthur II from June -July 2010 and is led by a combination of researchers from ONMS, the National Centers for Coastal and Ocean Sciences (NCCOS), NWFSC and SWFSC to survey DSCs at priority sites along the OCNMS off the state of Washington, CBNMS and GFNMS off of north-central CA, to CINMS in the southern California Bight (see Figures 1-5). The second cruise will be led by researchers from SWFSC using a submersible to survey additional high-priority sites in southern California during the fall (see Figures 3 and 6). The third cruise will be led by researchers from NWFSC, and will take place in the fall in collaboration with Oregon State University (OSU) to conduct AUV and multi-beam surveys in the Washington Grays Canyon Sponge Reef area (see Figure 7).

CRUISE 1:
CRUISE 1 is a collaboration among researchers from ONMS, NCCOS, NWFSC, US Geological Survey (USGS), University of California Santa Barbara (UCSB), Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute (MBARI), and University of Texas A&M (UTAM).

Overall goals for the three legs of CRUISE 1 are as follows: 1) to locate and characterize DSC and sponge habitats in priority areas and to make this information available to support related fisheries and sanctuary management needs under MSA and NMSA requirements; 2) to collect information to help understand the value of DSC as habitat for other associated species, including commercially important fishes and invertebrates, or in providing other important ecosystem functions (e.g., potential reservoirs of biodiversity); and 3) to assess the condition of DSC assemblages in relation to potential anthropogenic or environmental disturbances.

CRUISE 1: Leg 1 (OCNMS)
Leg 1 of CRUISE 1 is a collaboration among researchers from the OCNMS, SWFSC, and NWFSC. The surveys for DSC ecosystems at OCNMS will be conducted with alternating shifts utilizing a ROV and an AUV off the NOAA Ship McArthur II in June 2010. Both survey vehicles will target known or suspected DSC sites that are either in the current EFH conservation area known as 'Olympic 2' or are in adjacent areas that have been proposed as boundary expansions and/or have additional restrictions via the PFMC process (Figure 1). Olympic 2 was created in 2006 as part of the West Coast ground-fish EFH area, partially based on DSC data. PFMC has deferred deciding on whether to expand the boundaries and add additional fishing-gear restrictions for Olympic 2. The process to consider expansion by the PFMC will be revisited starting in September 2010. Thus, new information on the locations, densities, and condition of DSCs and their role as EFH within these proposed conservation areas will help to fill scientific data gaps and will provide new information pertinent to pending management considerations (via
provisions of MSA and/or NMSA). See Figure 1.

CRUISE 1: Leg 2 (CBNMS and GFNMS)
Leg 2 of CRUISE 1 is a collaboration among researchers from the CBNMS, GFNMS, NCCOS, USGS, and UTAM. Surveys of DSC ecosystems at CBNMS and GFNMS will be conducted in June 2010 using the K2 ROV and water sampling equipment on the McArthur II. The research objectives are as follows: 1) characterize the distribution, abundance, and condition of DSC, with particular attention to coral assemblages in existing EFH conservation areas or potential NMS boundary expansion areas; 2) understand environmental factors (e.g. depth, substratum, bottom topography, and water chemistry) that influence their distribution; 3) gather information to help understand the value of DSC as habitat for fishes and other associated species; and 4) conduct cross-shelf CTD transects and water-chemistry measurements to characterize carbonate saturation states for the purpose of establishing baseline data pertinent to understanding ocean acidification patterns and processes. If fishing impact such as signs of trawling or fishing gear entanglement is observed while underway, data on gear type and impacts will also be collected. See Figure 2.

CRUISE 1: Leg 3 (CINMS)
Leg 3 of CRUISE 1 is a collaboration among researchers from the SWFSC, NWFSC, PIFSC, CINMS, the University of California Santa Barbara (UCSB), and MBARI. Leg 3 will span five days of science operations in late June and early July, and focus on the biology and ecology of the DSC communities and habitats on a deep offshore bank located within the CINMS and designated as EFH and an MPA. The surveys of DSC ecosystems will be conducted from the NOAA ship McArthur II using the Kraken 2 ROV during daytime hours and NMFS’s Seabed AUV at night at depths from 250 to 800 meters. Temperature profiles and water samples also will be taken at the survey sites. Specific research objectives are to 1) characterize the distribution and abundance of DSC; 2) understand factors (e.g. depth, substratum type, water chemistry) that influence their distribution; and 3) evaluate function of DSC as fish habitat (Figures 3-5).

CRUISE 2: Christmas tree corals off Southern California
CRUISE 2 is a collaboration among researchers from the SWFSC and UCSB, spanning six days of science operations in the fall 2010 using a research submersible. The overall goals for CRUISE 2 are as follows: to better understand the biology, ecology and overall health of the Christmas tree black coral (Antipathes dendrochristos) and their use by demersal fishes on a deep offshore bank in the southern California Bight (Figures 3, Hidden Reef and 6). This study site has been designated as EFH and is located within the Cowcod Conservation Area. This area has been reported to be a hot spot for Christmas tree corals. Quantitative visual surveys will be conducted of these corals and associated habitats and fishes at depths of 100-350 meters.

CRUISE 3: Seabed AUV and Multibeam Acoustics (Grays Canyon, Washington)
CRUISE 3 is a collaboration among researchers from OSU and NWFSC. The overall goals for CRUISE 3 are as follows: 1) map the extent of the sponge reef identified in 2008 and proposed for protection by Oceana in 2009; 2) describe the associated ecosystem and to assist in determining the reef’s role as EFH; and 3) provide PFMC with information needed to take action to protect the Grays Canyon sponge reef (Figure 7).

Future Plans
Out-year planning will be guided by results from the FY2010 field activities and input from the January 2010 NOAA West Coast Deep- Sea Coral and Sponge Ecosystems Exploration and Research Priorities Workshop. FY2011-2012 research and mapping targets will be selected in partnership with input from government agencies, PFMC, tribes, non-governmental organizations and academia to focus on EFH conservation areas and other fishery-related closures on the West Coast. The goal for future activities will be to provide a better understanding on the location, distribution, ecosystem role, and status of DSC habitats. FY2011-2012 efforts will identify opportunities to pool resources, share expertise and exchange data to increase our understanding and management of DSC and sponge ecosystems on the West Coast.


Figures and Images

Figure 1. Targeted sites for CRUISE 1, Leg 1, ROV and AUV dives in OCNMS, off the coast of Washington state.


Figure 2. Targeted sites for CRUISE 1, Leg 2, ROV dives in CBNMS and GFNMS.


Figure 3. Overview of targeted sites for CRUISE 1 - Leg 3 (Piggy Bank), Cruise 2 (Hidden Reef), and back-up weather plan (Hueneme Canyon) in the Southern California Bight.


Figure 4. Details of target site for CRUISE 1, Leg 3. Interpreted seafloor habitat types overlaid on hill shaded bathymetry derived from a high-resolution multibeam acoustic survey of Piggy Bank in the Southern California Bight. Thin black track lines of previous Delta submersible dives are located on top of the Bank. Yellow lines indicate potential ROV and AUV surveys, primarily over rock substratum at depths from 275-850 meters. Yellow boxes indicate potential AUV surveys at depths to 850 meters.


Figure 5. Foul weather, alternative study site at Hueneme Canyon for CRUISE 1, Leg 3. Map of hill-shade bathymetry derived from a high-resolution multibeam acoustic survey of Hueneme Canyon in the Southern California Bight. Thin red track lines of previous Delta submersible dives are located at canyon edge. Yellow lines indicate potential ROV and AUV tracks, primarily over rock substratum at depths from 100 to 600 meters.


Figure 6. Targeted site for CRUISE 2. Interpreted seafloor habitat types overlaid on hill-shade bathymetry derived from a high-resolution multibeam acoustic survey of Hidden Reef in the Southern California Bight. Thin black track lines of Delta submersible dives conducted in 2002 are located over the reef. Green x’s are locations of Christmas tree corals (Antipathes dendrochristos).


Figure 7. Targeted sites for CRUISE 3. Oceana proposed closure areas showing site of sponge reef and proposed primary study site (solid red box).


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